The stakeout began at 11 p.m. the night before.
Sitting at a nearby restaurant until it closed and then going to her car until the guards made her park across the street, Mabel Nodarse was determined to make sure her daughter was the first in line to see her little idols on Saturday.
Her 10-year-old daughter Katrina Amaro wasn’t looking to meet Justin Bieber or a Disney band, but instead she wanted to be the first to enter the new American Girl store at The Falls Saturday.
Nodarse’s determination – and sleepless night -- paid off.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Katrina cut the red ribbon and even got a free doll for her mother’s efforts – she was also the envy of a lot of little girls who wanted to be first.
“She’s the best mom,” said Katrina clutching her look a-like doll, which donned the same red American Girl t-shirt, white capri pants and red sandals as the little girl.
Saturday was all about girls and their love for the American Girl dolls. The line continued throughout the day and by noon almost 1,000 people had entered. An estimated 10,000 were expected to go through the doors by Sunday evening.
In the 16,000 square foot store – made to look like a giant dollhouse with bright colors - the frenzy of excitement led to big smiles and big bills, with dolls costing $105 and accessories ranging from $6 for a hair pick to $350 for an aqua doll-size VW Beetle.
“You spent your $20, $30 ago,” Hazel Znidarcic said to her daughter, Valeria, who couldn’t believe how much there was to see in the store.
Znidarcic said she started the day by telling her three girls that they could get one thing each. After about 30 minutes of shopping she already had about $200 worth of clothes, toys and accessories in her oversized red shopping bag.
“I’m trying to only get stuff I know they will use,” she said, adding she was enjoying it as much as the kids. “We do it, because it makes them happy.”
For a group of girls from Conchita Espinosa Academy, Saturday’s opening couldn’t come fast enough. Their mothers made a reservation weeks ago to dine at the bistro.
“Lets get this moving, I want to get in already,” complained Sofia Lopez, 9, as she waited with her doll Chloe for doors to open.
Most of the girls had only shopped through catalogs on online. The new location is the 14th to open in the country. Other stores are in places like New York, Atlanta, Boston or Los Angeles.
When the girls walked inside, they quickly split in different directions, before meeting back at the bistro.
The girls placed their dolls in small pink seats attached to the table. In front of the dolls were little pink and white tea cups.
“I want one of these at home,” said Alexandra Curbelo, who did chores around the house and collected coins to save $101 to spend on doll accessories.
But perhaps the busiest spot was the spa area. Girls waited in line to get their dolls’ ears pierced, a fresh hairdo and even a baking-soda facial at the salon. The cost of the pampering treats: from $5 to $25.Like a doting mother, Katrina proudly recorded her look-a-like getting her hair done for the first time.
Katrina’s mom said she was as excited as her daughter.
Her spare room in their house has become a living area for her dolls. Each of the nine Katrina already owns has its own little doll house. The closet is full of outfits for her dolls.
“She has more clothes than I do,” Katrina said referring to her look-alike doll, which goes by the same name, Katrina. She rarely leaves the house without her doll.
Her mother admits she doesn’t even know how much she has spent on the hobby, but said she loves the mother-daughter time.
“Her face says it all,” she said. “It’s something we will remember forever.”